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John 20:19-29 THE TRANSFORMATION OF THOMAS

Intro: Several of our Lord’s disciples are well known. Books could be, and have been, written about Peter, John, and Judas. But, of some of the rest, we seem to know very little. I want to look at what the Bible has to say about one of the lesser known of the Master’s Men. I want to look at the life of the disciple named Thomas.

We know next to nothing of this man’s early life or of his call to follow Jesus. From the fact that he went fishing with Peter and the others in John 21, it might be that he was a fisherman before he became a disciple. The name Thomas is Aramaic for “Twin. The other name he has in the Bible is “Didymus. This word means “twin in Greek. Apparently, Thomas had either a twin brother or sister, but that person is not identified in the Bible. Some people think that Thomas and Matthew were twin brothers, because they are always mentioned together in the lists of the disciples, but we simply do not know for sure.

Thomas only appears in twelve verses in the Gospel record. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, Thomas is only mentioned three times. Each time he is mentioned, his name appears when he is listed with the other disciples of Jesus, Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15. He is also mentioned in Acts 1:3 as one of the disciples present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost.

Eight of the verses that mention Thomas are here in the Gospel of John. He is mentioned in John 11:16 and John 14:5. In both of those verses, the words of Thomas are quoted by John. We will look at these verses in a moment. In John 21:2, Thomas is listed as one of the seven disciples that went fishing after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The other five verses that mention Thomas are in the passage we have read today.

For nearly 2,000 years, Thomas has received a lot of bad press. He was given the name of “Doubting Thomas. He has been portrayed as a man filled with doubt and fear. I would like to attempt to set the record straight today. I think that the Bible reveals another side of Thomas. His primary problem was not his doubting; Thomas was a pessimist! He was a “glass half-empty kind of person. He seemed to look for the negative side of every situation first. He was the kind of person who was always on the lookout for the “dark side of things.

As we look at what the Bible has to say about Thomas, I want you to see that he possessed some admirable qualities. Among them are these: He was loyal to the Lord. He loved Jesus. He possessed an inquiring spirit. He was skeptical, but his skepticism was the right kind. It was a skepticism that was open to belief. Let’s look at Thomas as He is revealed in the Bible. I want to preach on The Transformation Of Thomas. I want you to see how the Lord worked in this man’s life to move him from doubt to a shout. Notice the ways Thomas is revealed in these verses.

 

I. v. 24 THOMAS THE POUTER

A. Ill. The Context Why the disciples were where they were, v. 19, and what they were doing there.

B. We are told that Thomas is not with them, v. 24. We do not know where he was that day, but a look at what we do know about him may hold the answers. There are two examples given in the Bible that reveal the heart of Thomas.

1. John 11:16 Ill. The Context. Jesus is going to raise Lazarus and Thomas knows that Jesus’ enemies are after Him and that Jesus might just die. He is willing to go with Jesus and die with him if necessary. Thomas challenged the rest to go along with Jesus.

2. John 14:5 Ill. The Context Jesus has told His disciples that He is going away. He also tells the disciples that they know where He is going and they know how to get there themselves. Thomas responds by saying that he needs more information. He wasn’t afraid to ask questions. His questions were not motivated by doubt, but by a desire to know more!

C. These two passages reveal a man who is not fearful at all. Thomas seems to me to be exceedingly brave. He is loyal to Jesus even unto death. He loves his Lord more than his own life. He would rather die than have to live here without his Lord.

When Jesus died on the cross, Thomas’ world was shattered! Surely he thought the worst! He no doubt became despondent, depressed and discouraged. He was not with the other disciples by choice. He was not there because he was broken-hearted and felt that their dream had reached an end. Surely a flood of competing emotions battled for control of the heart and life of Thomas. Thomas was somewhere else pouting that first Resurrection Sunday.

D. But, whatever his reasons were for missing that assembly that day, Thomas missed much because he was not there. Notice what he missed that day:

1. v. 19 – He missed the Presence of the Lord.

2. v. 19 – He missed the Power of the Lord.

3. v. 19 – He missed the Peace of the Lord.

4. v. 20 – He missed the Praises of the Lord.

5. v. 21 – He missed the Promotions of the Lord.

6. v. 22-23 – He missed the Provisions of the Lord.

Thomas missed a lot when he missed that assembly. Regardless of his excuse for not being there, he missed some things that could never be duplicated. Others told him about it, v. 25, but Thomas learned the hard way that there are some things you just have to see for yourself.

E. Thomas is a good picture of why being faithful to church is so vitally important. You never know what you will miss when you fail to come to church.

People have all kinds of reasons and excuses for the services they miss. We live in days when people are busy, their lives are hectic, their children are busy with sports and other activities, and sometimes God fails to get first place in our priorities. Sometimes God doesn’t even rate second, third or fourth place. He might not even be in the top ten. His worship must come first! Others are just mad about something, or they are mad at someone. Some don’t like the preacher, the deacons, or some decision that has been made. People have all kinds of things excuses that they offer as to why they missed church.

 

(Ill. The Pastor’s three reasons for wanting to miss church - A husband and his wife arose one Sunday morning and the wife dressed for church. It was just about time for the service when she noticed her husband hadn't moved a finger toward getting dressed. Perplexed, she asked, "Why aren't you getting dressed for church?" He said, "Cause I don't want to go." She asked, "Do you have any reason?" He said, "Yes, I have three good reasons. First, the congregation is cold. Second, no one likes me. And third, I just don't want to go." The wife replied, wisely, "Well, honey, I have three reasons why you should go. First, the congregation is warm. Second, there are a few people there who like you. And third, you're the pastor! So get dressed!" [1]

We all have our excuses, but none of them are worth the effort it takes to say them. An excuse is nothing more than the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie anyway.

Why not just tell the truth? You don’t come because you don’t want to. You don’t come because Jesus isn’t first in your life. You don’t come because you don’t like church. You don’t come because your heart isn’t where it ought to be.)

 

Let me just touch on this matter for a moment.

1. Church attendance is not an optional matter; it is a command from the Lord, Heb. 10:25-26. (Ill. An absence from church is a vote to close the doors! It is a testimony to the world that your life is more important then His worship.)

2. When you miss a service, you miss an opportunity that will never present itself again. (Ill. Ever notice the good service is the one you miss?) That problem you have; that need in your life; that question that has been plaguing you; might just be dealt with in one of the services you choose to miss. You never know what you will miss when you don’t come to church.

3. God has something special for each of us when we meet here. If we will come with a clean, open heart, we will receive a blessing from Him, Matt. 18:20.

(Ill. The missing Lamps In a certain mountain village in Europe several centuries ago, a nobleman wondered what legacy he should leave to his townspeople. At last he decided to build them a church. No one saw the complete plans for the church until it was finished. When the people gathered, they marveled at its beauty and completeness. Then someone asked, "But where are the lamps? How will it be lighted?" The nobleman pointed to some brackets in the walls. Then he gave to each family a lamp which they were to bring with them each time they came to worship. "Each time you are here the area where you are seated will be lighted," the nobleman said. "Each time you are not here, that area will be dark. This is to remind you that whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God's house will be dark." [2]

Something is missing in the fellowship when you are not here.)

 

4. You need the church and what it offers When you go to church to worship, you are proclaiming your faith in a risen Lord. You are teaching your children the importance of God’s house. You are building a wall of protection around your heart and life. You are strengthening your faith and growing in the Lord.

 

II. v. 25 THOMAS THE DOUBTER

A. Ill. The Context Thomas was not there when Jesus appeared. The other disciples were and they tell him about all that they had seen when Jesus appeared to them. The little verb “said is in the active voice. In other words, they kept on telling him about seeing Jesus and trying to convince him that the Lord was really risen from the dead.

Despite their assurances and testimonies, Thomas cannot bring himself to believe. He goes so far as to say, “I will not believe! This is a powerful statement. It is a “double negative. Thomas is saying, “I positively will not believe!

Now, before we come down too hard on Thomas, we need to think about the other disciples. When they first heard the news that Jesus was alive, they didn’t believe either, Luke 24:11; Mark 16:11. The whole group was so overcome with grief and disappointment that they could not bring themselves to believe. The only reason the ten believed was because they had seen Jesus for themselves. Thomas was only asking for the same proof they had already received.

Here was Thomas’ problem: he was a negative person. He was always looking for the cloud behind the silver lining. He had hoped against hope that Jesus was the Messiah and the Savior. Now, his last memory of Jesus is of a dead man hanging on a cross. His world has fallen down around him and he cannot bring himself to believe anymore. So, he rejects the words of his friends and spends a whole week in self-imposed loneliness and discouragement.

B. There are people in this room who can identify with Thomas. You have a hard time believing what you cannot see with your eyes. For that reason you have put off trusting in Jesus. His claims are amazing! What the Bible says about Him is hard for the human mind to grasp. Still, let me encourage you to delay no longer! Look to Jesus and believe the testimony of His Word and of those who have seen Him for themselves. Look to Him and be saved; He is the only hope you have, John 14:6; Acts 4:12; John 8:24.

C. Others here have lived lives shaken by one disappointment after another. You are disillusioned and think the claims of Jesus are too good to be true. But, the thing that makes them so good is the fact that they are true! Jesus can do for you what He has promised He can do. He can do for you what He has done for others. He can save your soul; forgive your sins; make you a child of God; free you from spiritual death and from the bondage of your sins. He can do it for you, and He will do it for you if only you will believe in Him, Rom. 10:9, 13; Acts 16:31.

D. There was a time when we were all doubters. But, the Spirit of God convinced us of the truth. We, like the ten disciples, believed and were saved and filled with peace, joy and spiritual life. Those same blessings can be yours, if you will believe. And, you can do that today!

 

III. v. 26-29 THOMAS THE SHOUTER

A. Ill. The Context Perhaps the disciples begged and pleaded with Thomas to the point where he decided to meet with them on the next Sunday. While they are there, Jesus again appears in their midst. This time, He focuses His attention on Thomas. He repeats the very words of Thomas (v. 25) back to him and invites him to touch Him and satisfy his need to know. Then Jesus tells him to let go of his doubts and trust what he knows to be true.

There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is a problem of the intellect. The person wants to believe, but has questions. Unbelief is a problem of the heart. Unbelief will not believe no matter what it sees. Thomas was plagued by doubt. When his questions were answered, he did not need to touch the risen Jesus; seeing Him was enough. Thomas utters one of the greatest confessions in the Bible. He calls Jesus both “Lord and God and he claims the Lord as his own. All of his pouts and his doubts are now settled. Thomas receives what the other disciples have been enjoying for a whole week. He gets all the things they got back in verses 19-23.

B. Apparently, Thomas never doubted again. After Pentecost, the Bible never mentions him again. History, however, tells us what happened to the disciples called “Twin. Thomas traveled east, preaching the Gospel through Persia. He finally wound up in India where he had a very fruitful ministry. There are several churches in India today that can trace their history back to the time of Thomas. Eventually, the enemies of the Lord took Thomas and killed him with a spear. He died for the Lord he once doubted.

C. Oh that those who doubt could do what Thomas did. Oh that you could just get past your doubts, your fears, your pride, your sins and the other things that hinder you from coming to Jesus. If you would come to Him and “be not faithless, but believing, you would find that Jesus can fill your life with peace, joy, praise, and blessing. He can take you just like you are and transform you like he did Thomas. He will use you, bless you, keep you, thrill you and amaze you. All you have to do is believe!

No matter who you are; what you have done; or where you have been, you need to know that Jesus Christ can and will save you if you will come to Him, John 6:37. Come to Him and watch Jesus take your pouts and your doubts and transform them into shouts.

 

Conc: In verses 29, Jesus tells Thomas something you need to hear today. He tells Thomas that Thomas had believed because of what he had seen with his eyes. Jesus then says something very important. He says that those who believe without seeing are even more blessed than Thomas. That is good news today! None of us will ever see the physical Person of Jesus in this life. What we must do is believe by faith what the Bible says about Jesus. If we can get passed our doubts and believe Him, we will be saved by Him!

If you are lost, what keeps you from believing in Jesus? What would it take to convince you? What holds you back? Whatever it is, it is not worth the eternal price you will pay for not coming, Mark 8:36-37.

Maybe there are others here like Thomas. You have been allowing yourself to be absent from the place where God meets with and blesses His people.

If the Lord has spoken to you and convinced you of the need to be saved, or of the need to draw closer in your walk with Him, you need to come to Him today and deal with those issues. Let Jesus take your pouts and your doubts and turn them into shouts for Him glory.



[1] http://elbourne.org/sermons/index.mv?illustration+105

[2] http://elbourne.org/sermons/index.mv?illustration+3750

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